The Institutye for Policy Inovation – TexBytes 9.35
Texas Insider Report: AUSTIN, Texas – We know we’re big here in Texas, but does our public school payroll have to lead the nation? For every 10,000 Texans our state-supported schools employ 273 people.
Come on, you say: New Jersey just has to lead Texas in that category, right? Wrong. New Jersey has just 266 school workers per 10,000 people. We’re No. 1! Aren’t you proud?
And we could be proud–maybe–if the numbers reflected classroom teachers trying to stuff Shakespeare, the Declaration of Independence, and some Algebra into young minds. In fact, nearly half our 661,000 public school workforce does something other than teach–administering, record-keeping, answering the telephone, cleaning, transporting, serving meals, and maybe devoting time to how they can avoid having their salaries and benefits trimmed, like so many private sector workers who pay the teachers’ salaries.
The question we need to ask is, how come we need almost as many folks doing support work as there are doing the stuff for which schools supposedly exist in the first place–teaching kids?
Big budget cuts are coming in government spending all over the United States–here as well as New Jersey, New York, California, and Wisconsin (where public workers lately stormed Capitol Square to protest). The money, as everybody and his dog knows by now, just isn’t there. Raise taxes, and you damage recovering economies and cause deterioration in private sector payrolls.
Spending cuts in the government sector reflect reality: namely, too many people in legislatures and public bodies indiscriminately threw around money in the fat years that allowed them to hire more people than necessary to do the job.
Even teachers are going to lose their jobs as public schools retrench. But when you’ve got nearly as many non-teachers on the payroll as teachers, you find ways to get by with fewer services at lower cost. By the way, it’s also how you learn what you really need as opposed to what public school employee unions tell you.
Today’s TexByte was written by IPI Research Fellow Bill Murchison.